Pope Francis likely to cut staff bonus, citing hard times

ROME Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:36pm BST

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

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ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis, who is quickly earning a reputation for frugality since taking office last month, is likely to scrap a traditional bonus given to Vatican staff, a spokesman for the Holy See said on Thursday.

The bonus is usually paid to Vatican employees to mark special occasions such as the deaths and elections of popes.

But Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "I don't think there will be any bonus."

"Extra expenses are something that might be normal in a situation of abundance, but that is not the world we find ourselves in now."

Lombardi added that he was referring to the general economic climate rather than any specific need for cost-cutting at the Vatican.

Pope Francis, who took his name after a saint who chose to live in poverty, has shunned the palatial papal apartments and forgone customary ornate dress in an effort to forge a more humble, less lavish papacy.

He asked his fellow countrymen not to make costly trips from Argentina to Rome to see his inaugural mass and to donate the money to charity instead.

Francis' predecessor Benedict gave workers 500 euros ($650) each and a day off to mark his 80th birthday. To mark Benedict's election and the death of John Paul II in 2005, employees were paid 1,500 euros. The decision affects about 4,000 employees.

($1 = 0.7668 euros)

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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